Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau rises during a sitting of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau rises during a sitting of the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Feds reveal details of $35M fund to help make farms safer in COVID-19 pandemic

The program will be applied retroactively to cover any COVID-19-related costs from March 15

Some Canadian farmers can now apply for emergency funding to protect their workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said Monday.

A $35-million program first announced at the end of July will subsidize farms’ purchases of personal protective equipment and sanitary stations and it will help to cover extra costs in cases of COVID-19 outbreaks.

The government will cover 50 per cent of the costs under the program and 60 per cent if a farm is owned by women or youths.

“Our government will continue to support farmers and (food) processors,” Bibeau said Monday.

“They are key partners in Canada sustainable economy recovery.”

Farmers in Saskatchewan, Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon and the Northwest Territories can apply. Bibeau said the government will announce programs that will be managed by the other provinces in the coming weeks.

Wearing N95 masks has been standard at grain farms since before COVID-19, because farmers deal with dust and rodents around some of the bins, said Keith Degenhardt, the vice-president of Alberta Federation of Agriculture. So the pandemic brought a shock.

“We saw the price on personal protection equipment increased,” said Degenhardt, who runs a crop and cow-calf farm with his family close to Wainwright, Alta.

The program will be applied retroactively to cover any COVID-19-related costs between March 15 and the end of next February, Bibeau said.

She said the program can apply equally to Canadian or migrant farm workers and it will prioritize farms at the highest risk of COVID-19 outbreaks.

The number of workers and the amount of space they have in their workplaces and housing facilities will be key elements in identifying farms at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks, Bibeau said.

Last month, the government launched a $77.5-million program to help Canadian food processors respond to the safety needs of their workers.

Lynn Jacobson, the president of Alberta Federation of Agriculture, said it’s important to understand that farmers have different operations and are affected differently by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some large farms with temporary foreign workers have faced extra costs for housing and separation of people.

“A lot of the farmers have bunkhouse-style housing because people are there for three months, four months, five months,” he said. “It’s very very hard to separate people with that type of accommodation.”

Jacobson said some farmers had to accommodate one person per room instead of four per room.

“Those types of things are issues, and they cost quite a bit of money,” he says.

Bibeau said the new program is built to support temporary foreign workers on farms too.

“We are strengthening the employer-inspections regime and developing improved employer-provided living accommodation requirements for migrant workers,” she said. “We care deeply about the well-being of migrant workers.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct 5, 2020.

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusFarming

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The organizers of the annual 39 days of July festival hope to return to live shows in Charles Hoey Park this year, like in this photo taken in 2019, but audiences at the show may be limited to 50 people due to health protocols. (File photo)
39 Days of July hoping for outdoor events in Duncan this summer

Annual music festival will run from June 25 to Aug. 2 this year

Cowichan Valley WildSafeBC coordinator Amanda Crowston teaches a Grade 5/6 class at Ecole Cobble Hill last fall. (Submitted)
The bears are back in town and so is WildSafeBC

The bears are back in town so keep an eye out, reminds… Continue reading

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

The Regional District of Nanaimo has its sights set on busing to the Cowichan Valley in time for March 2022. (News Bulletin file)
Bus link between Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley expected by next March

Unallocated transit hours already in Regional District of Nanaimo budget

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

A scene from the Schoolhouse Squat from October 2018, where Alliance Against Displacement members and supporters occupied the Rutherford Elementary School site, advocating for people experiencing homelessness. (News Bulletin file)
‘Schoolhouse Squat’ activists get conditional discharge in Nanaimo school occupation

Ivan Donald Drury, Tingchun (Listen) Chen sentenced in provincial court in Nanaimo

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham promotes the government’s BuyBC food program in 2019. (B.C. government)
Money running out for fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in B.C. schools

‘Looking at ways to support this type of program,’ minister says

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Experts now predict 33.6% rise in B.C. home sales for 2021

BCREA economists also predict home prices to increase by 14.3%

Most Read